Synano Sample
Image from Keith Wigdor

Snapshot: Syntech

I was young then, not even a decade old. My birth clade cycled between social and asocial periods. Once I reached maturity my family unit disbanded. I travelled a lot. I would join survey probes heading to uninhabited systems. On arrival they'd build me a body and so long as I didn't unduly disturb their work, or the environment, they would leave me be.


I had swum a small ocean to reach the polar continent. Arriving at the base of a jagged cliff I pulled myself inwards, wrapping my organs into a ball. Dozens of tentacles and sensory pseudopods sprouted from my surface. At the same time my mind unpacked the networks needed to process all-around vision. With molecular forests extruded from my limbs I easily scrambled up the cliff-face. In mere seconds I reached the summit, a tangle of meaty ropes. It was deathly cold. As the snow began to burn my flesh I spun an aerogel layer in my epidermis. My body thus protected I set off, rolling across the landscape.


In two days I arrived at the location that had spurred my journey. The longest mountain range in the world towered before me, weaving for nine thousand kilometers across the crown of the globe. I planned to walk it, a personal homage to our ancestor progenitors. Those of single form and life who travelled the birth world despite its dangers. I would need to prepare further. This world was abiotic though some evidence suggested long dead thermal vents harboured the beginnings of life. But if they did it never took hold. This world's tectonic phase was nearly ended, its sun had dimmed too far to keep the oceans liquid for long. In a few hundred thousand years it would all be ice. More pressing to me was the lack of easily available chemical fuels. I had explored the equatorial seas by occasionally basking on the surface, absorbing the meager solar rays. For my journey here I would not be able to rely on the sun for long. In a month the north pole would enter a three year long dark period, as this hemisphere turned through its long winter.


I could have returned to the water, stuck myself to the cliff and grown gills to filter out trace fissile material. However to gather enough to make radiothermic bone would take all of this winter and the next. I chose to store as much sunlight as possible and rely on low temperature modifications to help ration my energy reserves. Upon the first mountain face I spread myself into a wide and thin mat of tendrils. My outer layer darkened to near perfect black so as to absorb nearly every stray photon. I recycled some body mass into glands that secreted layers of superconductive crystal. Once a gland had finished synthesising crystal hoops swarms of mycelia deposited carbon nanotube jacketing. Nervous cabling bound to the disks, first inflating them with power before preparing to later transport energy as needed to millions of converter organs. There waste products would be recycled into chemical fuel, formed via electron transport chains powered by the solenoid batteries.


By the time of the last sunset until spring I had made thirty three storage discs of similar size. I arranged them in a vertical row, linked by strong ligature, and pulled my body into a mass around this spine. From my thick torso emerged five stumps; two short bowed legs, two long arms, a fat sensory tower within which I concentrated into a centralised processor. My limbs grew five digits arranged around a flat plate. The front of my head spun two visual sensors, a flattened chemical sensor, and a wide orifice for gas exchange. Reflexes and instincts unpacked in my mind. I stretched the pliable tissue around my orifice to expose my bioceramic compactors. As the metamorphosis completed thick fur blossomed on my surface. This body was as accurate as I could make it, in appearance it was identical to the progenitors. True my eyes saw far better in this darkness, my wet-phase nanomachines were optimal at 210 kelvin, and my fur was an insulating polymer weave rather than keratin. But in truth they would not survive here. Which is why I walk for them.

Outer volume tales. Anon.

Synanotech; technology which is a synthesis between biotech and dry nanotech

Synano only became possible when both 'wet' (organic) and 'dry' (mechanical, or inorganic) nano had been mastered. While a number of early forms were developed during the late Interplanetary Age, it was not until well into the First Federation in the Interstellar Era that synano and syntech really came into its own. Using the same chemical and metabolic pathways as organic life and bionano, but with the additional range of dry nanotech, synanotech became very popular, although it was some time before it was able to match the inexpensive and reliable bioassemblers. With the emergence of second singularity beings during the late First Federation period, new more robust forms of synano were developed as well, and there was a great deal of cross-breeding and mutation between synano and bionano, as well as between synano and organic biota. On its own, synano also, like bionano, readily developed into complex, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous nanecologies. Synano replicators also proved a potent goo, although dry nano still make more efficient disassemblers in a vacuum environment. Even so, most "wild" nano out on the periphery is synano rather than dry nano or bionano.

Despite its versatility and economical nature, the unpredictable quality of synano and the difficulties involved in creating new forms initially caused many clades to favour biotech or dry nanotech as separate technologies.

  • Autofabricator, AutoFab  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev; modified and expanded by Stephen Inniss, Todd Drashner and Ryan_B (2016)
    Also known as a fab, nanofab, autofac, nanoforge, or nanofac. A nanotech fabrication unit for creating finished products from raw materials. This type of device is ubiquitous in the Terragen Sphere.
  • Bicameral von Neumann Machine Architecture  - Text by Johnny Yesterday
    Fundamental architecture for the design of self-replicating machines that are incapable of uncontrolled self-replication and operation.
  • Binding  - Text by Todd Drashner
    The use of bionanotech to grow a control network inside a living being that allows the user to override the subject's nervous system and control their body and senses.
  • Bioxox  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Biological copy of an original bioid, often created using engenerator technology
  • Cerebral Siren  - Text by John B
    This device samples some 10,000 well-distributed neurons throughout the player's brainpan. It responds with a specific tone and texture when each neuron fires, producing a pseudo-rhythmic tonal surf effect. With significant biofeedback training and lucky placement of the neural sensors, a being can control anywhere from approximately 20% to the record 72.94% of the various textural tonal effects. This soundscape is usually quite calming and peaceful, unless there are unlucky placement of the filaments.
  • Computronium  - Text by Xaonon (original term by Eugene Leitl) with additions by Steve Bowers
    Matter supporting computation, especially artificial substances suitable for high efficiency computation.
  • Crest - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Symbiotic nanotech device that serves as a sign of one's station or rank within an organization or collective as well as conferring upon the owner privileges relating to that organization, such as file access, special protocols, restricted templates, hyperturing advice.
  • Distributed Intelligence  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An intelligent entity that is distributed over a large volume (or inside another system, like a virtual network) with no distinct center. This is the opposite of the strategy of Concentrated intelligences.
  • Engenerator Technology  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Technology which allows uploaded personalities to be transferred into physical bodies, sometimes at interstellar distances.
  • Envirosuit  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Advanced 'living', form-fitting synanotech suits that allow the wearer to move freely and interact as if in er home environment in surroundings that might otherwise be uncomfortable or even fatal.
  • Exoself  - Text by Anders Sandberg; modified by Steve Bowers, Updated by Ryan B (2017)
    Systems linked to the self in a cooperative way, extending the mind and the body. Especially used about the systems supporting an uploaded personality, providing information, virtual reality and monitoring.
  • Extended Color Convention  - Text by Omeganian
    Colour vision outside the conventional visible spectrum.
  • Forge Integrated Technology (FIT)  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Systems that incorporate one or more nanoforges into their structure for the purpose of producing new or replacement components as circumstances may require.
  • GELF  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    [Genetically Engineered Life Form] An old First Federation term, which every so often comes back into favour, for sophont custom-made lifeforms created through significant or total genetic engineering.
  • Inoffensive Bodies  - Text by iancampbell
    This trend among some sophonts involves a series of augmentations intended specifically to suppress the sometimes subjectively unpleasant or embarrassing features of biology.
  • Krek, Steaming Krek  - Text by Stephen Inniss and Steve Bowers
    A synano infestation which has become a common expletive in many parts of the Terragen Sphere.
  • Mechanosynthesis  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Forcing combinations of atoms in order to create nanoscale devices from a coarser density scale.
  • Mechmoss and Nanoalgae  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Simple sessile photosynthetic nanotech or synano neumann-capable devices/organisms.
  • Nanite  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev; amended by Stephen Inniss and Ryan B
    Generic term for a molecular or nanoscale device, whether bionano or hylonano; a cluster of reactive nanoparticles.
  • Nanofab - Text by Stephen Inniss
    An alternative name for an autofab.
  • Nanofac - Text by Stephen Inniss
    An alternative name for an autofab.
  • Nanoforge - Text by Stephen Inniss
    An alternative name for an autofab.
  • Nanomachine  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Pran Mukherjee
    Generic term for a microscopic or molecular mechanical (non-biotic) device, for example a hylonanite or nanobot. It is important to note that nanomachines (and indeed nanites in general) do not have to be nanoscale; they may simply be microscale machines that can manipulate nanoscale objects.
  • Nanomedicine First Aid Kit (N-FAK)   - Text by Ryan B
    Automated nanomedicine kit.
  • Nanorot  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Synano disassembly swarm, often feral with high nuisance value.
  • Nanosome - Text by Anders Sandberg, in Transhuman Terminology
    Generic term for any nanodevices (whether hylo or bio) existing symbiotically inside biological cells, doing mechanosynthesis and disassembly for it and replicating with the cell.
  • Omnimed   - Text by Ryan B
    Small white pills containing totipotent medibots
  • Omnitool   - Text by Ryan B
    General class of hand-held technology capable of performing a variety of functions either on demand or after some internal reconfiguration.
  • Pantropy  - Text by Steve Bowers
    The practice of adapting humans (and other bionts) to live comfortably in a planetary environment rather than attempting to change that environment to resemble the home world.
  • Paste - Text by Steve Bowers
    Swarm devices manufactured by a forge system, (such as a bioforge or nanoforge) so that the individual units do not carry the code for their own replication (human red blood cells are an example of this in biology).
  • Personal Medical System - Capabilities   - Text by Ryan B
    Artificial medisystems have a number of standard capabilities.
  • Personal Medical Systems (Medisystems)   - Text by Ryan B
    Artificial medical systems within the body of a biont.
  • Plantbots  - Text by Stephen Inniss and Steve Bowers
    Dry nano or synano robots powered by light and capable of autonomous growth and reproduction; generally sessile or with limited movement. So named because they are equivalent in role to biological plants.
  • Security Bush  - Text by ROM 65536
    Antipersonnel guard-plant and defence weapon.
  • Sentient Cancer  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Software/nanotech perversion of nanocytes or nanochondria of beings or objects with symbiotic nanosystems. While large-scale perversions gain the most publicity, small outbreaks of opportunistic or expansionist alife are far more common. One form of minor perversion that has recently emerged as a serious threat is sentient cancer.
  • Skill Module  - Text by Ryan B
    A class of software augment that operates by interfacing with a sophont's central nervous system to provide and/or teach a specific set of skills.
  • Synano - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Nanotechnology that integrates hylonano ("dry", or inorganic nanotech) with bionano ("wet", or organic nanotech).
  • Synbiome - Text by iancampbell
    This term refers to the complex of geneered and neogenic commensal organisms, nanomachines and nanoscale communications pathways present in most sapient bionts, which first became available in high-tech polities. The word came about as an extension of the word "microbiome", a term for the large number of micro-organisms (with a few just about visible to unaugmented human eyesight) that inhabit most, if not all, biological organisms. The synbiome usually incorporates the biont's nanomedical system among its functions. A synbiome also includes a signalling system, designed to alert the host biont to requirements for minerals and other substances not required by unaugmented bionts.
  • Technotelepathy  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Steve Bowers
    Use of commlinked technoetics to enable two (or more) entities to experience the same sensorium and stream of consciousness, sometimes without the knowledge of one (or more) parties.
  • Vasculoid Circulatory Replacement System  - Text by Steve Bowers and Ryan B
    Artificial Blood
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev
Snapshot by Ryan B (Rynn)
Initially published on 01 May 2003.

Additional Information